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Look Inside Grass Fed, Officially Grand Opening Saturday

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Grass Fed added a nice whitewashed facade to the brick on either side
Grass Fed added a nice whitewashed facade to the brick on either side

[Photo: Jason Little]

It's amazing what you can do in a month. Take Grass Fed, whose owners completely overhauled the 13-year-old Caffe de Luca in about that much time, giving the darker Old World-feel of the cafe a whitewashed, shabby chic makeover. This may not sound like a typical steakhouse, but then again, Grass Fed, which has been open in soft mode and opens officially this weekend, is anything but typical.

"We wanted something airy, light—even feminine—to turn the typical idea of a steakhouse on its head," said co-owner Scott Kay, who also owns Wood & Vine in LA. "We're trying to keep it affordable at a $25 prix fixe. It's not a dark, masculine clubby steakhouse."

The space, which was designed by Susan Sissman and Leslie Bowman, features white wainscoting, pale cream wallpaper with nature elements, open hanging lights, shade-covered sconces, small greenery in pots alongside tables and walls that were once closed that have now been opened up to let the light from the front windows flow through the room.

The entire vibe is different and really falls in line with Grass Fed's aesthetic of sourcing the best possible grass-fed beef and locally sourced produce. Kay, who owns the 75-seater (with 20 more on the back patio) with Blake Bible and GM Josh Schonfeld, a Lettuce Entertain You vet, said they spent the last year seeking out the best beef farmers and are sourcing from Paso Prime in Paso Robles, Calif., and Strauss, a Wisconsin-based collective.

The best thing about Grass Fed is you don't have to really think about what you're getting. The menu consists primarily of one thing: a $25 prix-fixe meal that starts with a market salad and housemade bread and moves on to a grass-fed sirloin, broken down in house, and served with a herb-based house sauce and fries.

You can elect to have a la carte starters like steak tartare, a beet salad or an asparagus salad with rhubarb, honey and thyme; and sides like ratatouille, Brussels sprouts or farro. The sides and salads, which range between $6 and $7, can change daily based on market availability. Additionally, you can opt for a vegetarian "steak" with your prix fixe; currently it's a cauliflower and mushroom steak with a romesco sauce.

Dessert is equally straightforward: blackberry and peach crumble, a molten chocolate cake (which just changed from a flourless chocolate cake) and, their signature, a butterscotch pot de creme. Grass Fed also has a full bar with wine, beer and spirits, but has a cocktail program featuring house-infused spirits used in cocktails like the Bucktown Mule (ginger beer and pink lady apple-infused vodka), the Arnold Shankar (chai- and vanilla-infused bourbon with lemonade) and the Sandia Caliente (smoked jalapeño-infused tequila with fresh watermelon juice).

Kay said they hope to launch brunch by the end of July that will feature a few more items, like grass-fed burgers, a baked egg dish and their take on eggs Florentine or a Benedict. Lunch, which will be more of a casual counter service operation, will follow after brunch gets started and feature salads, a steak sandwich, burger and other prepared foods. They also plan to pay homage to Caffe de Luca's legacy by offering coffee bar service throughout the day. "We think our space is inviting enough for that," Kay said. It certainly looks like it.
· Caffe de Luca Closing Late May to Make Way for Grass Fed [~EChi~]
· Grass Fed [website]

Grass Fed

1721 N Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 773 342 6000

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